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    Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    27 minutes ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ

    Let’s start by taking a look at several unsolved mysteries in the Rams’ 2012 season:

    1. Pulling Steven Jackson from the game when he’s rumbling for big yards. It happened again yesterday. Jackson had consecutive runs of 13 and 15 yards. He was on the way to gaining 34 yards on four first-quarter carries. But after his best series, Jackson was removed and replaced by rookie Daryl Richardson. And Richardson was ineffective again.

    What is the point of this? The Rams were, at least in theory, playing to keep their playoff dreams alive. The season was down to three games. They didn’t have to “save” Jackson for anything. They had to win this football game. Why remove your best player? And make no mistake, SJ is still this team’s top player on offense. He wasn’t tired. He wasn’t worn out. He didn’t need a breather. It was the first half. He certainly didn’t want to come out of the game.

    (Much later in the game, Jackson was bothered by a painful foot injury and it made sense to back him off. But that’s completely irrelevant to his usage in the first half.)

    I support the concept of a two-halfback rotation, but only to a point. When you have a hot back who is cranking out the yards, then you ride him. You don’t go with some prearranged substitution plan.

    Rams head coach Jeff Fisher was questioned by my colleague Bryan Burwell after the game.

    Q: “How do you determine how to share carries between Jackson and Richardson?”

    Fisher: “Well, it’s plays, the play calls. We’ll tag the back to some plays is what we do and then Steven will come out, catch his breath and Daryl will go in. It’s not necessarily a number of plays, it’s just what’s working, what’s not.”

    Q: “Richardson played a lot during the two-minute offense, and does he normally do that?”

    Fisher: “Yes, that’s designed and ‘Jack’ was in there at times. He’s featured in our hurry-up and our two-minute package. We didn’t expect to spend the whole quarter in it.”

    (I have to pause from typing to scratch my head … thanks. I’m back now.)

    Here’s the comment that baffles me: “It’s just what’s working, and what’s not.”

    From where we sat, Jackson running the ball was “working.” He averaged 8.4 yards on his first four carries, and 6.6 yards on his first six rushes. He also caught a pass for 11 yards. Jackson was bowling over Vikings players, and the Rams moved the ball in for a 7-7 tie early in the second quarter.

    The aggressive, muscular running neutralized the Minnesota defense and kept the Vikes from selling out on the pass rush to attack QB Sam Bradford.

    When Jackson was replaced, the Vikings turned their front seven loose and went after Bradford. He was mauled in the second quarter. And have you watched Richardson try to pick up the blitz? I don’t want to be too hard on Richardson. He’s a rookie. He’s still developing. But he can’t block. So putting him in that role is ludicrous.

    One more thing:

    In his first nine games Richardson averaged 5.7 yards on 66 rushing attempts and had 10 carries of 10+ yards including one run of 53 yards, and another for 44 yards.

    In his last five games Richardson has averaged 3.3 yards in 22 carries, with a long run of 11. That’s his only 10+ run over the five games. In the last three games Richardson has 15 yards on five carries and a long run of 3 yards.

    It’s just what’s working and what’s not …

    I agree, coach.

    Using Jackson is working … using Richardson is not working.

    2. The slow starts. We talked about it in Monday’s print-edition column but in case you missed it: the Rams have trailed at the half for five consecutive games and in eight of their last nine. They’ve been outscored 73-28 in the first half of the last five games — though I should point out that they were within a touchdown in three of the five games. But in the second half of the five games the Rams have outscored foes 69-32.

    What’s the deal? Maybe it’s nerves and a young team feeling the pressure going into a game. Maybe it’s a faulty game plan that requires adjustment. Maybe this is just a random development that eludes a firm explanation.

    Bradford fits the pattern. In the last five games he has three TDs, four INTs and a passer rating of 66.0 in the first half and five TDs, no interceptions and a 90.4 rating in the second half.

    3. The Rams’ excellent play in the NFC West and relative futility outside the division. The Rams of course are 4-0-1 against division rivals, with one game to go, at Seattle. (They won’t have much of a chance in that one.) But outside the division the Rams are 2-7, and in the seven losses they’ve been outscored by a total of 100 points.

    I don’t know how a team that valiantly stood up twice for a win and a tie against San Francisco, and that could be so drab, so ineffective, in losing to the NY Jets and Minnesota Vikings by two touchdowns at home. Makes no sense.

    4. Why was the inexperienced Blake Williams empowered to call the defensive plays this season? I want to be fair to Williams. Despite becoming the latest team to be trampled by Adrian Peterson yesterday, the Rams have improved on defense this season. They’re better in virtually every major statistical category. A big part of that is an upgrade in personnel. But if we’re going to question the coaching when the defense plays poorly, it’s fair to give Williams and the coaches credit when the defense plays well.

    That said, the Rams were set up in an awfully foolish defense Sunday when Peterson broke away for an 82-yard TD journey that changed the game for good. They had an overload to one side, with a blitz, and with a defensive tackle (Kendall Langford) dropping into coverage. As great as Peterson is, and he’s excellent, I think a lot of backs would have clicked off a long run against that flawed defensive strategy. Dropping a run-stuffing defensive tackle into coverage with Adrian Peterson lurking in the backfield?

    Wow. That simply defies belief. Fisher, clearly bugged about it, mentioned the “wrong defense” after the game when asked to explain the Peterson breakaway.

    OK, so why is Williams calling the plays when the Rams have more experienced defensive assistants (including the respected Dave McGinnis) on the staff? And if Williams is going to try and do something silly like drop a DT into coverage against Adrian Peterson’s offense, at what point does Fisher intervene?

    5. We saw Brian Quick’s strength, size and leaping ability showcased during his outstanding 4-yard TD catch early in the second quarter. Quick’s sensational play tied the game 7-7. Here’s the question, the mystery: why wasn’t Quick utilized as a red-zone specialist this season? This is not a second guess; we have been saying this all season.

    Quick, the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, arrived with considerable hype generated by Rams management and coaches. But he’s struggled mightily to learn the offense in his rookie season. That happens. I think Quick will be a more significant factor in 2013.

    But do the Rams want us to believe that they couldn’t develop Quick into a red-zone target from the beginning of the season? They couldn’t give him five, six plays to master for red-zone situations? Yesterday, he beat the Minnesota DB on a jump ball for a TD. There’s not a damned thing that’s complicated about that. This was an example of taking advantage of Quick’s natural, and impressive, athleticism. And they could have been doing this all season. I simply cannot understand the thinking here.

    6. Will the Rams ever find a player that can effectively return kickoffs? In 1999, Tony Horne led the NFL with an average of 29.7 yards per KOR. He ran three back for touchdowns, including a crucial 97-yard TD in the first-round playoff win over Minnesota.

    Horne was never the same after that; chronic toe and foot injuries derailed his career. And the Rams have lagged in the kickoff return game ever since.

    Rookie Chris Givens inherited the gig this season, and he ranks 21st in the NFL with an average of 23.9 yards per KOR. Givens limped off the field after getting walloped during one return Sunday. He reportedly left the stadium in a walking boot Sunday.

    Givens is an increasingly vital component in the Rams’ passing game and it doesn’t seem like a good idea to expose him as a return man. It would be different if he excelled at the role, but that isn’t the case.

    The 2012 Rams rank 28th among 32 NFL teams with a return average of 20.9 yards this season. Their average starting point after kickoffs is the 20.4 yard-line, which ranks 27th. They have started 15 possessions inside the 20 after kickoffs.

    Moving on …

    Bradford’s attempt to win the hearts of Rams fans isn’t being helped by the play of two young quarterbacks in the NFC West.

    • Seattle’s Russell Wilson, the 75th overall choice in the 2012 draft, is playing as well as any quarterback in the league. And that includes Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the first two picks in the ’12 draft.

    Head coach Pete Carroll knew what he was doing in giving the starting job to Wilson over free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn.

    For the season Wilson has completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,697 yards, 21 TDs and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 95.5. He’s also rushed for 402 yards and three TDs.

    Wilson’s play has really taken off during Seattle’s current 5-1 stretch of dominant football: 65 percent completion rate, 11 TDs, one INT, a passer rating of 114.9 and 274 yards rushing with three TDs.

    The Seahawks have put up 50+ points in two consecutive games; that hasn’t been done by an NFL team since 1950. Seattle outscored Arizona and Buffalo 108 to 17 in the last two games.

    Five quarterbacks were selected before Seattle went for Wilson with the 13th pick in the 3rd round.

    • And then there’s San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, the 36th overall choice in 2011 and the fifth quarterback chosen in his draft class.

    Head coach Jim Harbaugh is looking good so far in his controversial call to play Kaepernick over the successful incumbent Alex Smith.

    Kaepernick zinged New England for four TD passes in the *****’ road win Sunday night. As the Niners starter Kaepernick is 4-1, and has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 7 TDs and two INTs for a passer rating of 104.4. As a starter he’s also rushed for 202 yards and two TDs.

    Oddly enough, Bradford is 1-0 against Wilson and Kaepernick this season, with the Rams beating the Seahawks and the ***** at home.

    Moving on …

    • I can’t believe the officials missed Rams defensive end Robert Quinn being held during Peterson’s 82-yard TD jaunt. I’m not making excuses for the STL defense, which allowed AP to go for 212 yards rushing. But Quinn wasn’t held; he was grabbed around the neck and wrestled down. We could see it from our high vantage point in the press box. Officials that were standing a few feet away – including referee Al Riveron – completely missed it. There was no gray area in this one; Quinn was neck-tackled. Other than the Vikes actually using a rope to calf-tie Quinn, I don’t know how the infraction could have been more obvious.

    NFL officiating stinks this season.

    Moving on …

    • One real positive: the Rams’ marketing department did a very good job of saluting the fans yesterday, with reduced prices for team gear and concessions and other prizes and gifts for loyal season ticket holders. The team’s on-field play was bad, but VP Kevin Demoff and his staff should be commended for showing true appreciation to the fans.

    And putting “St. Louis” in giant block letters in each end zone was a nice touch. It looked great. I hope the Rams do that for every home game in 2013.

    Thanks for letting me vent …

    — Bernie

  2. #2
    live4ramin's Avatar
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    Re: Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    Bernie, you spot-on, venting bastaad!
    Look away. I'm hideous. __ Cozmo Kramer

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    Re: Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    Head to Head

    Bradford 1-0 vs RG3

    Bradford 1-0 vs Wilson

    Bradford 1-0 vs Kaepernick

    Not that it matters how these young QB are doing in their early days... Sam had beat them all.

  4. #4
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    Maybe the title of this article should be "Rams Again Miss Chance To Please Bernie".
    ZiaRam likes this.

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    Re: Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    i'm tired of "rams have no chance against the seahawks hurr durr"

    yet even the cardinals can get whipped, and then turn around and whip somebody else

    the rams can, and WILL beat seattle AGAIN

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams again miss chance to please fans ..

    Holy crap...Bernie making sense, I wonder if the end of the world is approaching.

    Oh wait.....
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

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